I'm in the border town on the Mongolian side near China. Tomorrow I intend to look for a car to take me to the capital, Ulan Bator.

But when I use my usual tool, Google Maps, to see how long the drive is, it tells me 19 hours, 25 minutes for the 841 km trip.

Now I know there's no German Autobahn covering the route, but according to WikiVoyage, work on upgrading the road was just completed earlier this year.

So is this travel time more or less up-to-date or has the recent roadwork improved it dramatically?

(I noticed Google Maps seemed to overestimate driving and public transport times over the border in Inner Mongolia, China too.)

Oh and I don't expect some kind of magic exact time. Just something quotable from personal experience, found on a blog, etc. I Googled and haven't found anything yet ...)

My experience

As I hitchhiked two heavy (slow) trucks with some long stops for repairs I gave up on trying to add up the driving time. For me it took about a day and a half with some great adventures along the way. Smaller vehicles passed us going very quickly so their driving time could be quite short.

The south part of the road is brand new between Zamyn Uud and Choir, though the south end has some closed sections and doesn't lead to the centre of town where the train station and border crossing are. I don't know where it actually goes.

The north part of the road from Choir to Ulaanbaatar is a few years older and already has some very worn out patches, which makes it slower. It also had some areas with snow and/or ice, but not too much.

  • With what kind of vehicle? An overloaded truck? A mule cart? A 4WD off-road car?
    – uncovery
    Nov 26, 2013 at 14:55
  • > Oh and I don't expect some kind of magic exact time. Just something quotable from personal experience, found on a blog, etc. I Googled and haven't found anything yet ...) Nov 26, 2013 at 14:57
  • I read that. But I would still think that an old truck with a max speed of 45km/h will make a huge difference to a modern car with 90. About 2x actually. That's not a magic exact time IMHO. Do a google image search for "trucks mongolia" to see what I mean.
    – uncovery
    Nov 26, 2013 at 14:59
  • Possibly. Probably. I don't know which of those options Google Maps' time is for either. I'm hoping/expecting to get a ride with some middle class people in a modern non-overloaded car though - I've seen such people/cars around and they seem to respond to me so that's probably something to aim for if need be. Anyway an answer that gives a time and states what kind of vehicle it's for would give me some room to extrapolate. Nov 26, 2013 at 15:05
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    I don't know if it's best but it's ubiquitous so it's just my default tool though I often check OpenStreetMap as a backup. Here Maps says about 8 hours, which is a lot less than Google Maps, but not as little as the official answer uncovery found. Nov 27, 2013 at 0:34

1 Answer 1


What I can tell you is that the road is actually open and looks very good. It's all the way through, even the last leg from Sainshand to Zamyn udd just opened 6 days ago.

Further, in this presentation on page 17 created by an official of the road development body of Mongolia, before the construction was finished, it is mentioned that the average travel time on the road used to be 12-15 hours and should be down to 5.5-6.5 hours.

Since the road was finished 6 days ago, I would be very surprised if you would find someone with live experience however...

  • Well that would make Google Maps very wrong indeed. (Or I just used it wrong?) Nov 26, 2013 at 15:48
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    @hippietrail I would assume that google maps uses a standard speed for certain road types. Unpaved desert road is hard to predict. It can be washboard, loose sand or whatever else. They must have a security margin on top of that.
    – uncovery
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:51
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    by the way, I googled "Mongolian Vertical corridor" to find the PDF.
    – uncovery
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:52
  • I just found that Rome2Rio gives the same time as Google Maps. I don't know if they use it internally or not. Nov 26, 2013 at 15:55
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    They do for some things like driving times. Nov 27, 2013 at 5:29

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